DURBAN – The Coronavirus pandemic has affected people in many different ways, from restricted social interaction, while the loss of jobs, is already having adverse effects on mental health.
A new study has found that the pandemic is having a profound, negative impact on people with eating disorders.
Dr Dawn Branley-Bell, Research Associate, said: “Our findings highlight that we must not underestimate the longevity of the impact of the pandemic. Individuals with experience of eating disorders will likely experience a long-term effect on their symptoms and recovery. It is important that this is recognised by healthcare services, and beyond, in order to offer the necessary resources to support this vulnerable population now and on an on-going basis.”
In the earlier days of the pandemic, health experts had said the disruptions to daily routines and constraints to outdoor activities may increase weight and shape concerns, and negatively impact eating, exercise, and sleeping patterns, which may in turn increase eating disorder (ED) risk and symptoms.
A large-scale international study analyzing the early impact of Covid-19 on eating disorders also found that more than two-thirds of participants surveyed reported fears over the worsening of their disorder and were concerned about their ability to maintain recovery.
To those seeking help, Eating Disorders South Africa (EDSA) hosts weekly support groups for individuals over the age of 18 who are struggling with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. These free meetings take place every Wednesday from 5:30pm to 7pm at Denmar Psychiatric Hospital. Email [email protected] for more information.
EDSA also provides other resources, such as a blog and interactive discussion forum. RecoverySpace.org is an online resource for those struggling with eating disorders throughout South Africa. This includes local articles and referrals to treatment centres throughout the country, including those in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pretoria.
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